Sunday, April 23, 2017

What if God was one of us? A view from an Earth based spiritual path

My sister recently asked me to share a short reflection on this question, a Pagan viewpoint of God, for a service where the theme centered around the 90s song "What if God was one of us." I thought this is a perfect time to share with all of you, one of many new posts coming in the future. ~ Laura

We are all made of star stuff. Does that sound familiar? “The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.” Carl Sagan asserted this on an episode of Cosmos back in the 1980s. While I didn't have the chance to watch the original series, I've heard the words repeated over the years and have resonated to it. It means that we are all connected to each other from the same source. Even bigger than any individual, all of the bits and pieces of the universe, the pieces of the earth, and all that is seen and unseen is connected in some way or another to each other. Who is to say that we then also don't share a soul or spirit, life essence if you will. As a Unitarian Universalist, a Druid, and a human on a spiritual journey, all of this affects how I perceive God. Call it God, Spirit, or The Divine, I believe there is something out there bigger than each of us, bigger than all of us.

In my case this is many somethings. I was told I could only have 5 minutes (anyone know a UU or a Pagan that can summarize the sole essence of their personal theology in that time?)  so my reflection question of the day is how do I see God as one of us? I choose to reflect on two of the somethings that make up my personal theology, Animism and Polytheism.

Animism is one of the ways I see Spirit,God, or The Divine as part our world. It describes some of the oldest religious and spiritual practices, according to those that decide such things. The commonly accepted definition of animism is that objects, places, and creatures all possess distinctive spiritual qualities. To me it means that everything has a spirit or an aspect of the divine inside of it. Each of us in the human family, our siblings in the rest of the tree of life, such as mammals and birds, and even each piece of our Mother Earth, rock and shrub, has a piece of the divine in it. After looking back over the years to my childhood and my craving for time outside on our grandparents farm - just ask my mom - I have always been this way. I call these aspects nature spirits or land spirits or tree spirits. When I say I'm a tree hugger, in some ways I’m being literal. Mother Earth is to me as divine and alive as God is to those of the Christian path. She is literally one of us and in each of us, just as we are a part of Her. There is no separation of divinity as being outside of us. Spirit is one of us, walking beside us, under us, with us. “As above, so below, as within, so without” is  a quote from the Hermetic texts that sums it up in a lot fewer words.

As my spiritual journey continues, I see not one singular God but many deities, along with the aforementioned natural spirits. For me this means gods and goddesses are a part of those forces that I look to for strength, guidance, reverence, and I respect Them. As a growing Polytheist, I acknowledge that there are many gods and goddesses, both seen and unseen, with names some so old Their names have long been forgotten. Just because I don’t have a relationship with a deity doesn’t mean they have any less power or that I don’t “believe” in them.  Having spent the first 20 or so years of my life as a Catholic with God, a father god, I have leaned more towards the goddesses having a primary presence in my current spiritual practices. But unlike the Catholic tradition, where God is celestial, lofty, and resides outside of us, these other deities seem human in many respects.  These other deities have made mistakes and triumphs alike. The stories, or mythos, of these events have been passed down over time. I have no doubt They have walked among us and tested us, even if we didn’t know. I’ve had experiences on my spiritual path that I can not explain in any comprehensible way that have led me to this belief and on this path. For me, God is one of many who maybe at anytime walking among us.

As a Unitarian Universalist Druid, all of this affects how I see God. I do see God as one of us, in all of us and those inhabiting our world with us. It’s why during my spiritual practices I pay my respects to the nature spirits, the shining ones (or god/desses), and my ancestors. Spirit is one of us. The divine is not outside of our human understanding. God (if you will) is one of us.